National News

The Living Standards Outlook 2021

This is the third dedicated Living Standards Outlook from the Resolution Foundation, in which the Foundation assess how the hoped-for post-pandemic economic recovery might translate into a recovery for living standards. It focuses on working-age households, and provides projections for household disposable incomes across the income distribution.

The Foundation takes as a basis the most recent projections from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) and the Government’s stated policy choices, and combine that with official survey data to assess the impact on households’ living standards through to 2024-25.

You can read more, and download the report as a pdf here

Intellectual property after 1 January 2021

Updated 15 January

The paragraph on Parallel trade between the UK and the EEA has been updated.

Key information for customers and users of IP about how the IP system and the Intellectual Property Office will operate after the end of the transition period.

For more information go to the Government website

Foreign travel insurance

 

16 January 2021

Updated with new requirements coming into effect from 4am on 18 January 2021.


COVID-19 travel guidance

Under current UK COVID-19 restrictions, you must stay at home. You must not leave home or travel, including internationally, unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so. Check the rules that apply to you in England,

If you are travelling to the EU, you can apply for a free Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). If you already have an EHIC it will still be valid as long as it remains in date. A GHIC or EHIC gives you the right to access emergency state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in those countries.

Check for the latest information on GHIC or EHIC online, or by phone on 0300 330 1350.

Remember that a GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property. EHIC is not valid on cruises.

You should make sure your travel insurance covers your healthcare needs.

When taking out travel insurance you should also check:

  • the level of healthcare cover it includes
  • the travel disruption cover it includes
  • the terms and conditions

Contact your insurer if you have any questions about your travel cover.

For more information go to the Government website

 

New legal protection for England’s heritage

Published 17th January

New legal safeguards introduced for historic monuments at risk of removal

All historic statues, plaques and other monuments will now require full planning permission to remove, ensuring due process and local consultation in every case

The law will make clear that historic monuments should be retained and explained

The Secretary of State able to “call in” any application and ensure the law is followed

The most significant new protection for England’s heritage since the 1967 Civic Amenities Act established Conservation Areas

Measures build on proposals that embed beauty, design and quality in England’s planning system for the first time

For more information go to the Government website

Social care sector to receive £269 million to boost staffing levels and testing

Updated 19th January

The funding is intended to protect and support the social care sector, including care homes and domiciliary care providers, by increasing workforce capacity and increasing testing.

The vital infection prevention and control guidance on staff movement in care homes is also being reinforced, with a reminder to providers to continue following the rules and keep staff and residents safe.

The new £120 million funding will help local authorities to boost staffing levels, a direct ask of the sector. The funding can:

  • provide additional care staff where shortages arise
  • support administrative tasks so experienced and skilled staff can focus on providing care
  • help existing staff to take on additional hours if they wish with overtime payments or by covering childcare costs

For more information go to the Government website

Rigorous new targets for green building revolution

Published 19th January

All homes and businesses will have to meet rigorous new energy efficiency standards to lower energy consumption and bills, helping to protect the environment, the Housing Minister Chris Pincher has announced.

Responding to a consultation on the Future Homes Standard, the government has set out plans to radically improve the energy performance of new homes, with all homes to be highly energy efficient, with low carbon heating and be zero carbon ready by 2025.

These homes are expected to produce 75-80% lower carbon emissions compared to current levels. To ensure industry is ready to meet the new standards by 2025, new homes will be expected to produce 31% lower carbon emissions from 2021.

Existing homes will also be subject to higher standards – with a significant improvement on the standard for extensions, making homes warmer and reducing bills. The requirement for replacement, repairs and parts to be more energy efficient. This includes the replacement of windows and building services such as heat pumps, cooling systems, or fixed lighting.

For more information go to the Government website

New regulator established to ensure construction materials are safe

Published 19th January

Residents will be protected through the establishment of a national regulator which will ensure materials used to build homes will be made safer, the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced.

The regulator for construction products will have the power to remove any product from the market that presents a significant safety risk and prosecute any companies who flout the rules on product safety.

This follows recent testimony to the Grenfell Inquiry that shone a light on the dishonest practice by some manufacturers of construction products, including deliberate attempts to game the system and rig the results of safety tests.

The regulator will have strong enforcement powers including the ability to conduct its own product-testing when investigating concerns. Businesses must ensure that their products are safe before being sold in addition to testing products against safety standards.

For more information go to the Government website

VCSEs: A guide to working with government

Published 20th January

If you are a charity or social enterprise looking to build your experience and credibility, boost your sustainability and diversify your income, and if you are considering exploring the opportunities of selling on a large or small scale to central Government, local authorities and/or other public sector buyers, then this guide is for you.

Central Government has committed to diversify its supply chains. We have also committed to ensuring contracts are awarded on the basis of more than just price, but a supplier’s social impact too, giving VCSE organisations much deserved recognition for their positive actions in society. VCSEs can have real impact in public sector procurement. This is why they have changed the way they buy goods and services to help more VCSEs and SMEs to bid for their contracts. These changes include:

  • building on the Social Value Act to mandate all central government departments to explicitly include social value in all major new procurements
  • buying in a simpler and quicker way by abolishing pre-qualification questionnaires for low value public sector contracts
  • requiring the public sector to publish its contracts on Contracts Finder
  • requiring the entire public sector supply chain to be paid within 30 days

So now is a good time to find out about opportunities that are available and learn how you can bid for public sector contracts.

This guide will cover how to work with public sector buyers, how to get ready for tender, what buyers are looking for and 10 top tips for tendering.

Find out about PPN 06/20 here and read the new Social Value Model as an online pdf here

To read the full press release go to the Government website

Charity Commission to consult on responsible investment guidance

The Charity Commission, the registrar and regulator of charities in England and Wales, is to consult on revised guidance on responsible investments.

‘Responsible investments’ refers to financial investments that align with a charity’s mission and purpose.

The announcement follows a listening exercise undertaken by the regulator last year, which found, among other things, that the way responsible investment is outlined in its current guidance is not giving some trustees sufficient confidence that they can consider, or that the Commission supports, this approach to investment.

The Commission plans to publish draft guidance in Spring of this year for a public consultation, supported by a refreshed interpretation of the law in this area. The final updated responsible investments guidance is expected this Summer.

For more information go to the Government website

Coronavirus antibody test kit: guides in different languages

Published 15th January

Step-by-step guide available in different languages on how to take your coronavirus (COVID-19) antibody test.

Instructions for antibody test kits in Bangla, Chinese (simplified), Gujarati, Polish, Punjabi and Urdu.

For more information go to the Government website